Written by Rick Harbison Monday, 05 November 2018 00:00
I’ve thought about doing this race for a little while now. I’ve traditionally done mountain bike races, but I bought a Kona Super Jake this year and I’m beginning to dabble in the gravel grinder/cx races. I did the Northwoods Gravel Grind up in Rangeley and loved it, and since I live in Portland this race was right in the backyard. It’s hard to pass up too because the Eastern Prom is such a picturesque and unique venue for a race.
Since this was my first cross race I started at the back of the Cat 4-5 group. Having helped set the course up the previous day, I knew I needed to pass as many people as I could in the first sprint since the course dips into a tighter single track trail a few hundred yards off the start. I moved up along the outside left of the pack and probably got to around the top ⅓ of riders before dipping into the woods. Unfortunately, someone wiped out at that very spot and caused a small pile up, which jammed things up considerably. Once that cleared I worked on passing people one by one.
I normally do the marathon mountain bike events so I wasn’t totally confident in my ability to pace myself for a 35-minute effort, but I figured I’d just try and go all out. The fun factor and distraction of riding the course — navigating the corners, dismounting/mounting the bike, passing riders — helped make the suffering slightly less front of mind. That and the near-constant heckling from friends and family. As the field spread out my lap times got faster and faster (except that one lap where I wiped out).
In the end, we did four laps and the race was over before I knew it. I came in 9th for the Cat 4-5’s which I’m happy with (to be honest I thought I did a lot worse). I probably could’ve placed a little higher if I had a better starting position, but I have to admit by the time the last lap came around I didn’t feel like I was about to catch anyone anytime soon either.
So, first cross race in the books. Thanks to Bikeman and everybody else in the Greater Portland cycling community that pulled together to make it happen this year. I have a feeling I’ll be doing it again next year, along with a few more cx races if I can swing it.
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